How the GDST is preparing girls for their future careers

Work experience placements are long established and valuable resources for our senior and sixth form students to gain insights into the world of work as they prepare for the next stage of their lives. However, with most UK workplaces operating on remote or hybrid work patterns, there have been fewer opportunities for students to experience the benefits of on-site work experience. This is where the GDST’s future-facing and collaborative approach to helping girls to learn without limits made a big difference this summer term.

A partnership with Bright Network

Thanks to our partnership with Bright Network, the UK’s largest student careers network, we were able to offer a virtual work experience placement to every single Year 11 student last month, and also to any Year 12 student who might have missed out in 2020. Students attended a series of workshops on networking, creative problem solving, and developing leadership; all key skills that are needed in any workplace. A highlight for one student was the workshop on leadership skills hosted by British Airways because it “gave an insight into possible careers that people had never previously considered.”

The second day began with an overview of different sectors and career paths within engineering, law, and finance, which was followed by a Q&A panel with young GDST alumnae, in the early stages of their careers. Students asked a variety of questions about pathways to get into law school, the hardest interview questions people had been asked, and for advice on how to get through A-Levels.

We are pleased to say that so many students left this session truly inspired and eager for the next stage of their academic journey.

The girls also took part in a CV/ applications workshop, during which they found out that employers only spend around 6 seconds to make their initial analysis of a CV and learned what should be included and how to set CVs out.

When we asked one Year 11 student from Croydon High School for her reflections on this year’s programme, she commented:

“We all left having gained new, useful knowledge about different career paths and skills necessary for both university and future jobs. Thank you to the Bright Network for this Virtual Work Experience Programme!”

Year 9 Enterprise Day

This term also saw many schools hold enterprise days to give students a chance to work on a problem in a team. Year 9 students from Croydon High School took part in the exciting opportunity to experience their first taste of the ‘business world’.

Guest speaker Karen Kimura, GDST’s Learning and Development Manager launched the first task of the day: a session on teamwork. We all know that teamwork is an important aspect of many jobs, but what better way to promote team spirit than with a spaghetti and marshmallow challenge?
The teams were tasked with creating the tallest tower out of 20 sticks of dry spaghetti, 1m of tape, 1m of string, and a marshmallow to balance on the top. Whilst some teams took the conventional approach combining their knowledge of Maths and Physics, others chose a more creative approach, with one team hanging their tower from the ceiling and achieving an impressive height of 72cm!

The rest of the morning was spent researching careers of the future with some thought-provoking questions to stimulate the girls’ research. The information they found led to a final group presentation later on in the day. The teams centred their presentations around pertinent real-world business questions ranging from “Which sectors have fewer female employees?” to “What might the jobs of the future be?”. The Year 9 whistle-stop tour of the world of business concluded with a final “speed dating” interview task to give the girls the skills needed to answer common interview questions.

One of our participating students from Croydon High School thought the Enterprise Day was a huge success and confirmed that it really gave her, as well as many others, confidence for the future.

“Overall, it was a great experience for us all, and who knows, maybe one of Croydon High’s pupils will be the next great entrepreneur!”